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Accidentally swallowed tiny plastic. What are the risks?

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Dr. Mayank Bhargava

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :2003

Answered : 1658 Questions

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Posted on Mon, 24 Dec 2012 in General Health
Question: I bit a piece of a plastic bottle top, and then it went down my throat. I have a sensation of something down my throat, I keep drinking fluids and eating different things to help bring it down. I am very scared thinking maybe the tiny plastic went down my windpipe. I keep coughing. (hard to say, because i also have a throat infection). I could see it was a very tiny piece from the cap. Could this be a potentially serious. I am scared it did not go down the same passage way as food. Please advise.
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Answered by Dr. Mayank Bhargava 24 minutes later
Hi XXXXXXX,
Thanks for posting your query.
Do you have any difficulty in breathing?
Accidental ingestion of piece of plastic bottle cap, if it enters in the wind pipe (Trachea) then a patient may feel difficulty in breathing.
Coughing reflex immediately helps in spitting it out.
There is high chances of impaction of plastic piece in pyriform foss of cricopharynx or in the mid esophagus (Food pipe).
It may be harmful if this piece has sharp edges by causing damage in food pipe.
If this piece is small in consistency and passes in the stomach then it could pass further ahead and may come out with shit.
Localization of plastic piece in chest X XXXXXXX is not possible.
You should immediately go to emergency room and could get your endoscopy as soon as possible.
This impacted plastic piece may be removed by endoscopy.
Put your queries if you have.
Best regards,
Dr. Mayank Bhargava
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Mayank Bhargava 15 minutes later
This does sound serious. I keep coughing like something is in my throat. Are you saying that time is of the essence. I am on antibiotics now. What is the pyriform foss or cricopharynx? Are you absolutely sure an endoscopy would remove this piece of plastic? I would rather go to a private doctor and have an endoscopy. How soon should I act on this? 'What are the repercussions to a damaged food pipe?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Mayank Bhargava 9 minutes later
Hi XXXXXXX,
You should go for endoscopy on emergency basis.
Endoscopy will definitely remove impacted plastic piece in food pipe.
If endoscopy won't help you in localization of plastic piece then only you should go for bronchoscopy (a type of endoscopy for airways). Bronchoscopy also helps in removing foreign body from airways.
Use of antibiotics presently doesn't interfere with endoscopy and its therapeutic role.
Pyriform fossa in cricopharynx is an anatomical structure whee foreign body is generally impacted. This fossa is just adjacent to opening of food pipe or wind pipe.
Damaged food pipe gets cured very soon within 2-3 days.
You should also take medicines from your treating doctor for rapid recovery.
Let me know your queries also, if any.
Take care,
Dr. Mayank Bhargava

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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